Wednesday, August 05, 2015



Taking vitamin D supplements is useless

It is going to upset a lot of people but that is the latest finding -- below

How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Deborah Grady, MD, MPH

Editorial

There is ongoing controversy regarding the definition of vitamin D insufficiency and the optimal treatment goal: should treatment aim to maintain a serum vitamin D level above 20 ng/mL or above 30 ng/mL? We found the randomized clinical trial by Hansen et al1 informative because it enrolled women with low vitamin D levels and tested both a lower-dose treatment to maintain vitamin D levels greater than 20 ng/mL and a higher-dose treatment to maintain levels greater than 30 ng/mL. After 1 year of treatment, randomization to a higher dose of cholecalciferol resulted in slightly better fractional excretion of calcium compared with low-dose cholecalciferol or placebo, but these differences are not clinically meaningful. Of more clinical importance, neither dose of cholecalciferol improved bone density, strength, muscle mass, functional status, or fall rate. It is possible that treatment beyond 1 year would result in better outcomes, but these data provide no support for use of higher-dose cholecalciferol replacement therapy or indeed any dose of cholecalciferol compared with placebo.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 03, 2015

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Why Obama and Hillary Must Stop Donald Trump at All Costs

(Including even more vote-rigging than usual?)

By Wayne Allyn Root

Someone is getting very nervous. Obama. Valerie Jarrett. Eric Holder. Hillary Clinton. Jon Corzine…to name just a few. And I know why.

I wrote a book entitled, “The Murder of the Middle Class” about the unholy conspiracy between big government, big business and big media. They all benefit by the billions from this partnership and it’s in all of their interests to protect one another. It’s one for all, and all for one.

It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich. Everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies.

But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. I’ve never seen them this outraged…this vicious…this motivated…this coordinated. NEVER in all my years in politics, have I seen anything like the way the mad dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump.

When white extremist David Dukes ran for Governor of Louisiana even he wasn’t treated with this kind of outrage, vitriol and disrespect. When a known fraud, scam artist and tax cheat like Al Sharpton ran for President, I never saw anything remotely close to this. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened like never before.

Why? Because David Duke was never going to win. Al Sharpton was never going to win. Ron Paul was never going to win. Ross Perot was never going to win as a third party candidate. None of those candidates had the billion dollars it takes to win the presidency. But Donald Trump can self fund that amount tomorrow…and still have another billion left over to pour into the last two week stretch run before election day.

No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business and political elite understand that Donald Trump is no joke and could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart.

It’s no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy Donald. No this is a coordinated conspiracy led by President Barack Obama himself. Obama himself is making the phone calls and giving the orders- the ultimate intimidator who plays by the rules of Chicago thug politics.

Why is this so important to Obama? Because most of the other politicians are part of the “old boys club.” They talk big, but in the end they won’t change a thing. Why? Because they are all beholden to big money donors. They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, multi-national corporations like Big Pharma or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock stock and barrel by foreigners- like George Soros owns Obama, or foreign governments own Hillary with their Clinton Foundation donations.

These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But one man- and only one man- isn’t beholden to anyone. One man doesn’t need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Autoworkers, or the Teachers Union, or the SEIU, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign.

Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slavemasters.

Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why Boehner and McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama? Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet they’ve never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal Executive Action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right?

Well first, I’d guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs…or secretly gay…or stealing taxpayer money…the NSA knows everything.

Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money, from his own bank account. Trust me- the NSA, SEC, IRS and all the other 3-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They know everything.

Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called “racists.” So they are scared to ever criticize Obama, or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment.

Fourth, why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a “good boy” you’ve got a $5 million dollar per year lobbying job waiting.

The big money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose…they win.  But Donald Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice cozy relationship between big government, big media and big business. All the rules are out the window if Donald wins the presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides. But not Donald.

Remember Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama’s birth certificate. He questioned Obama’s college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university.

Now he’s doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do- question our relationship with Mexico …question why the border is wide open…questioning why no wall has been built across the border…questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests…questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes yet are not deported…questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

Donald Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick? Good question.

I’m certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michele Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare web sites. By the way that tab is now up to $5 billion.

Trump will ask if Obamacare’s architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. He will ask if Obama himself committed fraud when he said, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.”

Trump will investigate Obama’s widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama’s college records.

Trump will prosecute Hillary Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover-up Benghazi before the election.

How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election.

Obama, the multi-national corporations and the media need to stop this. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Donald could wake a sleeping giant.

Trump’s election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Donald would dare to prosecute. Donald Trump will not hesitate. Once Donald gets in and gets a look at “the cooked books” and Obama’s records, the game is over. The gig is up. The goose is cooked.

Eric Holder could wind up in prison. Valerie Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Jon Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money.

Hillary Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails …or accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State …or for “misplacing” $6 billion as head of State Department …or for lying about Benghazi.

The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison. Obamacare will be defunded and dismantled. The Obama Crime Family will be prosecuted for crimes against the American people. And Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters.

Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved…just for fun. That will all happen on Trump’s first day in the White House.

Who knows what Donald will do on day #2?

That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump. That’s why we must all support Donald. This may be our only shot at saving America, uncovering the crimes committed against our nation and prosecuting all of those involved.

 SOURCE

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The Left Should Listen to Camille Paglia

Paglia is a self-described “dissident feminist,” after all — a creature of the Left who has found a niche criticizing her own side.

“Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!” Paglia told Salon in a three-part interview. “Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic!”

Here are a few issues where Paglia punches a hole in the Left’s ideology.

When it comes to feminism, Paglia predicts that Hillary Clinton faces an old problem: Monica Lewinsky. The former first lady was complicit in her husband’s actions, going so far as to attack the people criticizing her playboy husband. That will not bode well with 20-something feminists.

“Monica got nothing out of it. Bill Clinton used her. Hillary was away or inattentive, and he used Monica in the White House — and in the suite of the Oval Office, of all places. … Hillary has a lot to answer for, because she took an antagonistic and demeaning position toward her husband’s accusers. So it’s hard for me to understand how the generation of Lena Dunham would or could tolerate the actual facts of Hillary’s history.”

Furthermore, she said: “The horrible truth is that the feminist establishment in the U.S. … did in fact apply a double standard to Bill Clinton’s behavior because he was a Democrat. The Democratic president and administration supported abortion rights, and therefore it didn’t matter what his personal behavior was.”

Paglia is pro-abortion. She supports Planned Parenthood, but she was disgusted by the Leftmedia’s groupthink silence on the story.  “It was a huge and disturbing story, but there was total silence in the liberal media. That kind of censorship was shockingly unprofessional. The liberal major media were trying to bury the story by ignoring it.

Now I am a former member of Planned Parenthood and a strong supporter of unconstrained reproductive rights. But I was horrified and disgusted by those videos and immediately felt there were serious breaches of medical ethics in the conduct of Planned Parenthood officials.”

As for the Left’s aversion to religion, simply worshiping skepticism and treating most religions as cartoons of what they really are, the Left’s monoculture doesn’t hold a candle to the beliefs that have developed over thousands of years of human experience.

“I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system. They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny. Politics applies only to society.”

What would become of the Democrat Party if its members took Paglia’s thoughts to heart? The current Democrat Party, with its arguments against the exercise of religion when it comes to same-sex marriage, or its arguments against the First Amendment when the issue of super PACs arises, is no friend of Liberty of any kind.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Tuesday, August 04, 2015



Salt: killer or scapegoat?

"New Scientist" is fighting a rearguard action to reduce salt in our diet, despite a lot of evidence that salt does no harm.  I reproduce the key passages below.  I will add my comments following that

In 2009, cardiologist Francesco Cappuccio of the University of Warwick, UK, pooled all the data and found a strong relationship between a salty diet and cardiovascular disease (BMJ, vol 339, p b4567).

 Another way is to intervene directly in people's diets - take two groups of people, get one of them to eat less salt for a while and see what the outcome is. These trials take more work than observational studies but several have been done. The biggest managed to get thousands of people to cut down on salt by about 2 grams a day for up to four years and saw a 25 per cent fall in cardiovascular disease (BMJ, vol 334, p 885).

 Or you can look at whole countries, taking the before-and-after approach. Fifty years ago northern Japan had one of the world's biggest appetites for salt - an average of 18 grams a day per person - and shockingly high numbers of strokes. The government implemented a salt reduction programme and by the late 1960s average salt consumption had fallen by 4 grams a day and stroke deaths were down by 80 per cent.  Finland, another salt-guzzling nation, achieved similar gains in the 1970s.

However, the evidence is not always so clear. In July the Salt Institute was presented with its biggest PR coup for years when the Cochrane Collaboration, an internationally renowned body dedicated to assessing medical evidence, published a long-awaited study on salt and cardiovascular disease. As is usual for Cochrane, the study was a "meta-analysis", pooling the results of all the best-designed randomised controlled trials that have been done, the highest standard of proof in medicine.

Seven trials met the quality criteria, with over 6000 subjects in total. The analysis did show that people who cut back on salt have slightly lower blood pressure and are less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes. But, crucially, the effect on deaths wasn't big enough to be statistically significant. The Cochrane team could not rule out the possibility that the reductions had happened by chance.

The research was published simultaneously by Cochrane and the American Journal of Hypertension (vol 24, p 843), whose editor-in-chief Michael Alderman is a long-time critic of salt reduction. In an accompanying editorial (vol 24, p 854), Alderman, who was once a paid consultant for the Salt Institute, repeated his oft-stated claims that there is not enough evidence for salt reduction. Sensing a story, many newspapers ran with his line.

 Is Alderman correct? Not surprisingly, MacGregor thinks not. For one thing, he claims the Cochrane study is flawed. When he reanalysed the same data in a slightly different way, he found a reduction that was statistically significant (The Lancet, vol 378, p 380). Alderman criticises this as "salami epidemiology", but even in the original analysis the link between salt and death rates only just slipped below statistical significance. Far from casting doubt on salt reduction, some argued that the findings supported it.

The Cochrane report wasn't the end of it. Last month Alderman's journal published a further meta-analysis purporting to show that salt reduction could actually be harmful (doi:10.1038/ajh.2011.210). It concluded that while cutting salt lowered blood pressure, blood levels of certain hormones and lipids were increased, which could theoretically raise cardiovascular risk.

But many of the studies included in the analysis lasted just a few days and involved big salt reductions. MacGregor accepts that sudden and steep salt reduction can lead to counterproductive hormonal changes, but says that modest reductions, say from 8 to 6 grams, do not. "There's no evidence whatsoever that a modest reduction does any harm," he says.

 Even the chief author of the Cochrane study, statistician Rod Taylor at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK, agrees with MacGregor that the findings lend further support to salt reduction. "Our results do not mean that asking people to reduce their intake of salt is not a good thing," he says. "We have much stronger evidence for salt than we do for fat, for the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables or losing weight," argues MacGregor.

More HERE


Most of the studies  that found harm from salt were epidemiological and what such studies show is always contestable.   Let me illustrate:  The authors above use Japan to argue for salt reduction.  I can use Japan in exactly the opposite way.  Even after the various anti-salt campaigns, the Japanese are still huge salt consumers.  If ever you have tasted Japan's favourite sauce -- soy sauce -- you will know why.  It's almost solid salt.  Yet Japan is renowned for it multitude of centenarians and long life generally.  So, on that evidence, heavy salt consumption is clearly not harmful and may be beneficial.

So in that context the Cochrane study is all-important.   It filtered out the most contestable findings and zeroed in on the findings that are least contestable.   And that study showed no statistically sigificant harm from salt ingestion.

"New Scientist" acknowledges that but argues that a different analysis of the Cochrane data DOES produce statistical significance.  But to argue that way fails to understand what statistical significance does.  It compares a given result with what would happen by chance alone.  And if a result is on the borderline of conventional significance -- whether a bit above or a bit below -- hardly matters for policy decisions.  In any case, the effect is tiny.

If there were any kind of robust effect going on, statistical significance would hardly be worth calculating.   So the key thing that Cochrane showed was not the statistical  significance or otherwise of the result but rather that any effect from salt consumption was TINY -- and hence not worth bothering with.

And since anecdotes tend to be more persuasive than statistics, let me report that I have always put PLENTY of salt on my food  -- and yet my blood pressure is within the accepted safe range.  My blood pressure was up a bit once but I started doing a walk around the block most evenings and that fixed my blood pressure.  If you are worried about your blood pressure do some light exercise.  Exercise matters far more to your blood pressure than any trivial effect of salt. UPDATE: There's an article here which confirms the significant benefit of light exercise.

A final comment:  I liked the last sentence in the excerpts above:

"We have much stronger evidence for salt than we do for fat, for the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables or losing weight," argues MacGregor."

That rightly shows that all the other food fads are even more poorly founded.  LOL.

Further reading:  A big European study showed that LOW salt in your blood is most likely to lead to heart attacks.  See JAMA. 2011;305(17):1777-1785.  More here and here and here for similar findings.  Salt is harmless but a deficiency of it is not.  We need it.  See also here

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FOIA reveals unions assisted Labor Dept. with absurd regulations

By Richard McCarty

For decades, companions who sit with the elderly and infirm have been exempt from overtime and the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2013, Obama’s Department of Labor issued new regulations determining which companions would continue to be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime. These new regulations exceeded what Congress had intended when it passed the legislation, and the regulations were so complex that young and healthy people would have struggled to determine who was exempt, much less the elderly and infirm.

Just how bad were the new regulations? Companions would have been limited in how many times they could help an elderly person change their clothes. Companions would have been unable to use a vacuum cleaner if an infirm person were to create a safety hazard by spilling food on the floor. Companions would have been unable to prepare food for anyone other than the elderly person they were caring for, and any food that they did prepare would have had to have been consumed in their presence. If these rules weren’t exactly followed, then the new regulations would have required the companion to be paid more.

Because Medicare and Medicaid pay for the vast majority of the care provided by companions, it could be expected that the costs for those programs — which are already increasing rapidly — would rise even more quickly. Furthermore, it’s quite likely that some elderly or infirm people would be unable to pay their portion of costs for companion care. And it’s quite likely that some sick people would have had to suffer alone or with a reduction in needed care. Perhaps they would have had to remain in soiled clothes for hours or have missed a meal thanks to these regulations.

And who helped the Labor Department with planning for these absurd rules? Unions — the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Americans for Limited Government, the U.S. Department of Labor turned over a stack of documents showing how these unions are colluding with the Department on this subject.

On January 9, 2014, a senior SEIU staffer emailed a 60-page memo on large home care programs likely to be affected by the new companionship regulation to a list of senior Department of Labor officials and other union officials from SEIU and AFSCME. Also included was a 10-page chart summarizing the memo.

Carol Golubock (SEIU’s Policy Director) addressed this email to Laura McClintock (Associate Deputy Secretary of Labor), Michael Artz (AFSCME’s Associate General Counsel), Sally Tyler (AFSCME’s Senior Health Policy Analyst), Mary Beth Maxwell (then-Deputy Chief of Staff at the Labor Department), Patricia Smith (Solicitor for the Department of Labor), Malvina Ford (sic) (Senior Policy Advisor for the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division), Jennifer Brand (Associate Solicitor for Fair Labor Standards), Ryan Griffin (an attorney with James & Hoffman, who was working on an FLSA case against McDonalds around this time period), Laura Fortman (Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division), and Elizabeth Royal (SEIU’s Senior Policy Coordinator).

It appears that this information had been requested by one or more of the recipients: SEIU’s Golubock wrote, “I didn’t imagine it would take us this long to get you this mapping of large home care programs likely to be impacted by the new companionship rule, but gathering and checking the information took much longer than we had anticipated… Thank you all for your patience and hope this proves to be helpful.”

Shortly before guidance on the new companionship regulation was issued, Golubock set up a meeting to discuss the issue with an employee in the Office of the Secretary of Labor. On March 5, 2014, Golubock emailed the following to Mary Beth Maxwell (who took over as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy that month): “Are we on for Friday? To discuss companionship rule?” Maxwell responded, “Yes!” less than a half-hour later.

So complex were the regulations that the Obama Administration announced that it wouldn’t bother to enforce them for the first six months after they were to take effect. Fortunately, the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia blocked the regulations. However, the case is now on appeal, and final resolution of the issue will not happen for some time.

SOURCE

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Donald Trump and the Fed-Up Crowd

Watching Trump’s rise, America’s middle class “fed-up crowd” is enjoying the comeuppance of an elite that never pays for the ramifications of its own ideology

by Victor Davis Hanson

Donald Trump — a former liberal and benefactor of Democrats — is still surging. But his loud New York lingo, popular put-downs of obnoxious reporters and trashing of the D.C. establishment are symptoms, not the catalyst, of the growing popular outrage of lots of angry Americans who are fed up.

The fed-up crowd likes the payback of watching blood sport in an arena where niceties just don’t apply anymore. At least for a while longer, they enjoy the smug getting their comeuppance, as an uncouth, bullheaded Trump charges about, snorting and spearing liberal pieties and more sober and judicious Republicans at random.

Perhaps they don’t see the abjectly crude Trump as any more crude that Barack Obama calmly in academic tones assuring Americans that they all could keep their doctors and health plans when he knew that was simply untrue or announcing to the nation that his own grandmother was a “typical white person” or advising supporters to “get in their face.”  They see Trump as no more vindictive that Harry Reid lying about Mitt Romney’s tax returns (and then bragging that such a lie helped defeat him), or a Sen. Barbara Boxer publicly attac­­king the single, non-parental status of then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And they certainly don’t see Trump as uncouth as an Al Sharpton — former presidential candidate, chief advisor on matters of race to Barack Obama, and current TV news show host. Trump’s crass bombast is enjoyed by the fed-up crowd as the proper antidote to the even greater bombast of the Left, who created Trump’s latest manifestations.

The conservative base is tired of illegal immigration. Their furor peaked with the horrific killing of Kate Steinle by a seven-time convicted felon and five-time deported illegal alien.  They are baffled that one apparently exempt and privileged ethnic group can arbitrarily decide to ignore federal law. They are irate that they are lectured about their supposed racism from an open-borders movement predicated on La Raza-like ethnic chauvinism. They do not want to hear about nativism from a lobby that so often at rallies waves the flag of the country that none of the protestors seems to wish to return to, a country whose authoritarianism is romanticized as much as their host country is faulted for its magnanimity. Call this what you will, but emotion over neglecting federal law is much less worrisome than cool calculation over violating it.

More HERE

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Monday, August 03, 2015



What social and medical science has to say about Obama's push to "desegregate" white suburbs

In their constant determination to go against the grain of what they see in the society around them, Leftists have long argued that contact  between people of different races is a good thing.  They started that ball rolling not long after WWII, when it emerged that black/white contact in the American military during WWII had fostered some inter-racial friendships, even though the forces were at that time largely segregated racially.  That the military is not much like society at large and that war is not peace were  "overlooked".

So the "contact hypothesis" was born and thrived for many years in social science writing.  As early as 1974, however, I was arguing in the academic literature that the converse is true: The more you see of other races, the less you like them.  Nothing I wrote in the research literature on the subject had any influence, however.  It took Robert Putnam to blow the nonsense out of the water.

Putnam was a well-credentialled Leftist whose early illustrations of declining "social capital" in the USA had attracted a lot of interest.  In that work he showed how social interactions outside  the home had shrivelled up since the '60s.  People were "hunkering down" and "bowling alone".  People were increasing less trustful of their environment and reluctant to set foot outside their own front door.

He proposed several reasons for this effect but omitted the obvious one:  The "liberation" of blacks accomplished by the Civil Rights Act and the destruction of racial segregation that took place in the '60s.  Whatever else it did, Jim Crow kept blacks significantly subdued and, in particular, not dangerous to whites.  A black man getting "uppity" could in some cases end up hanging from a tree in those days.  The incidence of violence among groups of sub-Saharan Africans is uniformly high at all times and in all nations so there was still a high level of crime among blacks in the Jim Crow era but it was almost entirely black-on-black, as, indeed, it still largely is.

I am not of course defending Jim Crow or advocating a return to it.  I am simply being a good social scientist and noting that, after it abolition, life became more dangerous for whites.  And it was because the world outside was more dangerous that white Americans, in particular, became more hesitant about setting foot outside their front door, particularly at night.  They watched TV instead.

Eventually, however, Putnam felt he had to address the racial facts that kept bobbing up in his data.  After years of hesitation,  he dropped his bombshell: The more ethnic diversity there was in a community, the less was the social interaction and co-operation.  It was when you had black neighbors that you stayed at home as much as you could.  So much for the contact hypothesis!

So "diversity" brings on social isolation.  But social isolation is a very bad thing.  Ever since the work of sociologist Durkheim in the late 19th century, researchers have known that alienation from those around you has serious psychiatric consequences.  It is, for instance, a major cause of suicide.

And if social isolation is troublesome to us in advanced societies, it is even more troublesome in less sophisticated societies.  Australian Aborigines are, for instance, compulsively social.  They have a strong need for the physical company of others of their kind. Put one in isolation in jail and he will do his level best to kill himself.  An erring Aboriginal can be "sung" to death by his tribe.  The singing consists of the men of the tribe sitting down together and chanting disapproval of the person for hours on end.  The target of such chanting will simply die.

So from the literature of both anthropology and sociology, we know that social isolation is bad for your health  -- bad to the point of being fatal.  I was pleased therefore to see the article from the medical literature below which confirms how fatal social isolation can be.  It's no wonder so many Americans avoid "diversity" by "white flight" and it's very threatening that Obama is trying to "diversify" existing white suburbs.

So an obscure article in a medical journal has great relevance to a current "hot" political issue.  Under the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), announced by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently, Obama wants to plop down "affordable" housing in the middle of better-off communities. In conjunction with Putnam's findings, the article below would suggest that more white  suicides will result if he succeeds. Leftism can be fatal in all sorts of ways -- large and small.



Association Between Social Integration and Suicide Among Women in the United States

By Alexander C. Tsai, MD et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance:  Suicide is one of the top 10 leading causes of mortality among middle-aged women. Most work in the field emphasizes the psychiatric, psychological, or biological determinants of suicide.

Objective:  To estimate the association between social integration and suicide.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We used data from the Nurses’ Health Study, an ongoing nationwide prospective cohort study of nurses in the United States. Beginning in 1992, a population-based sample of 72 607 nurses 46 to 71 years of age were surveyed about their social relationships. The vital status of study participants was ascertained through June 1, 2010.

Exposures:  Social integration was measured with a 7-item index that included marital status, social network size, frequency of contact with social ties, and participation in religious or other social groups.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The primary outcome of interest was suicide, defined as deaths classified using the codes E950 to E959 from the International Classification of Diseases, Eighth Revision.

Results:  During more than 1.2 million person-years of follow-up (1992-2010), there were 43 suicide events. The incidence of suicide decreased with increasing social integration. In a multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model, the relative hazard of suicide was lowest among participants in the highest category of social integration (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.23 [95% CI, 0.09-0.58]) and second-highest category of social integration (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.26 [95% CI, 0.09-0.74]). Increasing or consistently high levels of social integration were associated with a lower risk of suicide. These findings were robust to sensitivity analyses that accounted for poor mental health and serious physical illness.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Women who were socially well integrated had a more than 3-fold lower risk for suicide over 18 years of follow-up.

SOURCE


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The IRS Is Still Targeting Conservatives!

The political targeting of Americans violates our most basic rights.

BY LOGAN ALBRIGHT

In a stunning abuse of power, the IRS has been targeting the donors to conservative political organizations for audits, according to a report by the Washington Free Beacon. The documents released via a Freedom of Information Act request as part of an investigation by Judicial Watch show that the agency specifically singled out individuals who gave to groups with words and phrases like "tea party" in their name for audits.

This is a continuation of the scandal that began in 2013, in which the agency targeted the groups themselves. At that time, Lois Lerner took most of the heat for the targeting, with officials claiming it was an isolated incident that didn't go any higher up. Clearly, that was not the case.

The fact that this sort of thing goes on in our government is an outrageous assault on our most basic liberties. America was founded on the idea that we should be free to express our political opinions without the government punishing us for them. This was an important distinction to draw from previous autocracies, where dissent from the ruling class could land you an indefinite stay in cold, dark cell. It has not yet gotten that bad in America, but the idea of using government power to to intimidate, bully, and harass those of us who think that the government has grown too large and oppressive, apart from proving our point, should offend any American who values the freedom of expression guaranteed by our Constitution.

This scandal has been brewing for two years now, and still nothing meaningful has been done. Lois Lerner no longer works at the IRS, true, but a low level official falling on her sword to protect her superiors is no longer an acceptable solution. We have to send a message that this sort of corruption will no longer be tolerated in the land of the free.

The IRS has spent much of the last two years attacking conservative non-profit groups. Apart from the continuing targeting scandal, there was also a proposed regulation that would have effectively destroyed the ability of non-profits to conduct political organizing. The IRS is supposed to do one thing - collect revenue, not serve as an attack dog for the Democrats against any and all political opposition.

The IRS continues to justify its status as the most hated of all government agencies.

SOURCE

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Mayor de Blasio Calls off Uber Cap Bill

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” -Milton Friedman

New York City, NYC- Capitalists and customers throughout the country are celebrating a major free market victory as news that progressive NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that he will not continue to push a city council bill that would have placed a cap on the number of Uber drivers allowed to operate in the city. The news coming from the Mayor's office came in several days after Uber general manager, Josh Mohrer, publicly announced that he wanted to hold a live streaming debate between himself and de Blasio in order to discuss the bill for the public at large to witness; in addition to Mohrer's challenge, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who recently called Uber “one of the great inventions of this new economy”, which struck a more political blow to de Blasio, seeing how Cuomo has always supported the populist progressive mayor in the past. There are four key points to understand about this whole situation:

Lessons from de Blasio's war on Uber:

1) If de Blasio, the unions, and the NYC city council had their way, Uber would have in fact had a monopoly on the entire app based ridesharing industry in the city. As mentioned in an episode of the Young Voices podcast with contributors Jared Meyer and Daniel Pryor, they pointed out how Uber (which already holds a 90% market share in the app based ridesharing market in NYC) would essentially come out of this battle as the ultimate winner in terms of consumer accessibility, since other ridesharing app businesses such as Lyft have not moved into the city. By continuing to fight the bill like they did, Uber sent a loud and clear message to the Taxi unions (who pushed for the driver cap bill) by stating that free and open competition for the betterment of both businesses and consumers, was more important than crony capitalism trying to use the heavy hand of regulation to erase competitors from the market.

2) The progressive war on the "sharing economy" should at this point begin to bring awareness to the young voting population of millennial voters who are typically swayed by Democrats. As I mentioned in a previous article regarding progressive 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's recent economics speech:

"An all-out political assault on these services is a strange move for the Democrat; according to Breitbart writer Joel Pollak, this decision in her platform may in fact "surprise millennial consumers, whose loyalty to the Democratic Party has largely been blind, and who have presumed that the party of government shared their love for technology."

A look overseas gives us all a glimpse into the state's negative intervention into the "sharing economy"; the French government in June declared an all out ban on Uber operations in the country. BBC picked up on the initial story and reported that:

"French taxi drivers have blocked the roads to Paris airports and the main ring road around the city in a protest against Uber, a US taxi app. The drivers set up blockades and burned tires as part of a nationwide strike. Some cars were overturned and others had their windows smashed with bats."

3) Technological innovation, job opportunities, and consumer happiness, are finally becoming talking points for many Americans across the land, as this whole Uber debacle has shown many politically apathetic citizens what can happen in markets that are not bogged down by red tape, regulation and corporate interests. As FreedomWorks research analyst Logan Albright points out simply, yet strongly:

"Mobile apps are providing services that benefit consumers, workers, and communities. Don’t let regulators drive them out of business in order to protect favored monopolies."

4) Last but not least, free market advocates must be listening in for buzzwords that indicate hidden motives for new regulation. In de Blasio's op-ed in the New York Daily News discussing his stance on the city council Uber driver cap bill, he continually tried to use environmental issues in order to mask the real issue at play:

"We need to find a way to manage the huge increase in new vehicles to keep our streets moving, protect air quality and make sure our buses and other vehicles can also get around…”

"The city is focused on making our transportation more sustainable by improving access to ride-sharing, investing in low-carbon and multi-modal options like walking and biking, and reducing dependency on private fossil fuel vehicles."

When hearing politicians talk about the green agenda , people should always ask, are they using real science, or just trying to push their own bias? since the green policies pushed by Democrats in the past several decades have been used over and over again to kill jobs and economic growth .

All in all, this whole situation wasn't simply about Uber, its about the constant struggle between free, individual enterprise, and government control forced by the influence of special interests

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Sunday, August 02, 2015


Avoiding that pesky evolutionary thinking

The Left are deeply uncomfortable with evolutionary thinking.  It explains too much for their liking.  That men and women have evolved to have inborn differences that reflect their role vis a vis children flies in the face their feminist creed that there are no differences between men and women -- for instance.

So the blindness to evolution that we see below is no accident.  "New Scientist" has always been Left-leaning and their fervour for global warming shows that to be still undimmed.  The claim that the high mortality rate seen during the Black Death in the 14th century may have been the result of poor general health rather than the strength of the bacterium is plausible at first sight but neglects the obvious.  And the plausibilty fades fast when you look at ALL the evidence -- something Leftists chronically avoid.  See the last sentence in the article below.

So what is the obvious factor that the writer below is blind to?  That those who were infected in subsequent plagues were almost all the descendants of those who did  not die the first time around.  Those who did not die the first time around had some factor or factors in their makeup that made them resistant to yersinia pestis -- and it is they who survived to reproduce and pass on their resistance.  Pure natural selection at work.  Fewer people died the second and third times around because they had inherited resistance.  They survived because they were the descendants of survivors.  Obvious to anyone but a Leftist.  Leftist thinking rots your brain


The secret of plague’s death toll is out. The high mortality rate seen during the Black Death in the 14th century may have been the result of poor general health rather than the strength of the bacterium.

The Black Death killed about 60 per cent of Europe’s population. That’s surprising as recent plague outbreaks weren’t as devastating.

“There is a huge difference in mortality rates,” says Sharon DeWitte at the University of South Carolina, even though 14th century and 20th century plagues were caused by the same bacterium, Yersinia pestis, and its genetics were similar in both outbreaks.

DeWitte believes that the high mortality rate in the 14th century may have been the result of a general decline in health. She examined skeletons in London cemeteries from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries and found that more adults under the age of 35 were buried in the 13th century.

This suggests that people were dying younger before the Black Death arrived – probably because of famine and an increase in disease burden from other pathogens.

“Together with historical data, the picture that emerges is that the population was not doing well,” says DeWitte.

But Samuel Cohn, a historian from the University of Glasgow, UK, is not convinced.

“The wealthy were also dying in great numbers during the first outbreak of the Black Death [1347-51],” he says, noting that it is unlikely that they were in poor health.

SOURCE

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Could Trump Win?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The American political class has failed the country, and should be fired. That is the clearest message from the summer surge of Bernie Sanders and the remarkable rise of Donald Trump.

Sanders' candidacy can trace it roots back to the 19th-century populist party of Mary Elizabeth Lease who declaimed:

"Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street. The great common people of this country are slaves, and monopoly is the master."

"Raise less corn and more hell!" Mary admonished the farmers of Kansas.

William Jennings Bryan captured the Democratic nomination in 1896 by denouncing the gold standard beloved of the hard money men of his day: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

Sanders is in that tradition, if not in that league as an orator. His followers, largely white, $50,000-a-year folks with college degrees, call to mind more the followers of George McGovern than Jennings Bryan.

Yet the stagnation of workers' wages as the billionaire boys club admits new members, and the hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs under trade deals done for the Davos-Doha crowd, has created a blazing issue of economic inequality that propels the Sanders campaign.

Between his issues and Trump's there is overlap. Both denounce the trade deals that deindustrialized America and shipped millions of jobs off to Mexico, Asia and China. But Trump has connected to an even more powerful current.

That is the issue of uncontrolled and illegal immigration, the sense America's borders are undefended, that untold millions of lawbreakers are in our country, and more are coming. While most come to work, they are taking American jobs and consuming tax dollars, and too many come to rob, rape, murder and make a living selling drugs.

Moreover, the politicians who have talked about this for decades are a pack of phonies who have done little to secure the border.

Trump boasts that he will get the job done, as he gets done all other jobs he has undertaken. And his poll ratings are one measure of how far out of touch the Republican establishment is with the Republican heartland.

When Trump ridicules his rivals as Lilliputians and mocks the celebrity media, the Republican base cheers and laughs with him.

He is boastful, brash, defiant, unapologetic, loves campaigning, and is putting on a great show with his Trump planes and 100-foot-long stretch limos. "Every man a king but no man wears a crown," said Huey Long. "I'm gonna make America great again," says Donald.

Compared to Trump, all the other candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, are boring. He makes politics entertaining, fun.

Trump also benefits from the perception that his rivals and the press want him out of the race and are desperately seizing upon any gaffe to drive him out. The piling on, the abandonment of Trump by the corporate elite, may have cost him a lot of money. But it also brought him support he would not otherwise have had.

For no group of Americans has been called more names than the base of the GOP. The attacks that caused the establishment to wash its hands of Trump as an embarrassment brought the base to his defense.

But can Trump win?

If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals. For if Trump is running at 18 or 20 percent nationally then, among Republicans, it is hard to see how two rivals beat him.

For Trump not to be in the hunt as the New Hampshire primary opens, his campaign will have to implode, as Gary Hart's did in 1987, and Bill Clinton's almost did in 1992.

Thus, in the next six months, Trump will have to commit some truly egregious blunder that costs him his present following. Or the dirt divers of the media and "oppo research" arms of the other campaigns will have to come up with some high-yield IEDs.

Presidential primaries are minefields for the incautious, and Trump is not a cautious man. And it is difficult to see how, in a two-man race against the favorite of the Republican establishment, he could win enough primaries, caucuses and delegates to capture 50 percent of the convention votes.

For almost all of the candidates who will have dropped out by then will have endorsed the last man standing against Trump. And should Trump be nominated, his candidacy would make Barry Goldwater look like the great uniter of the GOP.

Still, who expected Donald Trump to be in the catbird seat in the GOP nomination run before the first presidential debate? And even his TV antagonists cannot deny he has been great for ratings.

SOURCE

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Pantsuit on Fire — Hillary’s Busted, but Is She Caught?

Could it be? Could the downfall of the Clinton Crime Family, a political machine that makes Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall corruption of the late 19th century look like a middle school 4-H club, finally be near?

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” Hillary Clinton said of her secret servers in March. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

But last week, I. Charles McCullough, inspector general of the intelligence community, contacted the FBI about a “potential compromise of classified information” through Clinton’s email. The IG found four instances where Clinton handled information labeled “secret” — classified information that he noted should “never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.” And that was out of a sample size of just 40 emails. Imagine what he’ll find in the rest of the 30,000 emails she didn’t already destroy.

In March, the nation discovered that Clinton used a personally owned email server housed in her New York residence to conduct official business on behalf of the State Department. At long last, after five months of curtailed information and growing controversy, it appears Hillary and Bill’s habits of disregarding the law might catch up with them. At least we hope so.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, “Other senior officials have faced criminal charges for misusing classified information. Former CIA Director David Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor this year for disclosing classified information to his mistress, while Clinton-era National Security Adviser Sandy Berger copped a misdemeanor plea in 2005 for walking off with classified documents from the National Archives.” Or how about the sailor facing prison for taking photos of a U.S. submarine?

Could the same be in store for Hillary? Following the sputtering start of her campaign, investigatory hearings, and enough versions of events surrounding her email use to rival Baskin Robbins' 31 flavors, have the Clintons finally been exposed as the corrupt, self-serving political hacks they are?

Throughout months of investigations, serving up whoppers seems like standard operations for Team Hillary:

The notion that the NY home-based server was to eliminate redundancy has been proven false.

Hillary’s assertion to have “fully complied” with the strenuous requirements of the State Department and intelligence community is embarrassingly laughable.

Her claim to have “turned over all” of her emails is a lie.

She also possessed multiple email addresses linked to the server, not just one singular account as originally stated — another lie.

This latest revelation may prove impossible for the American public and the loyal media presstitutes to ignore. But the lie followed the Clintons' standard buffet-style approach to the truth: Pick and choose what you like; omit the rest. The inspector general announced some of the emails “were classified when they were sent and are classified now.”

Oops.

Hillary has been proven a liar. But in addition to her dishonesty, she also stands as a manipulative tyrant with incredibly poor judgment, one who believes in distinct Rules and Laws for Thee but Not for Me. And now the voting public, tired of the swill served out of DC, is rejecting her toxic brew.

Peter A. Brown, assistant director of a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted in June to survey Hillary’s trustworthiness, revealed that “Clinton’s numbers have dropped among voters in the key swing states of Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. She has lost ground in the horserace and on key questions about her honesty and leadership.”

Tim Malloy, another assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, put it more succinctly: “Hillary Clinton’s numbers on honesty and trust may border on abysmal.”

Not only that, but she trails three GOP candidates in three key swing states. It’s early, so take that for what you will.

These negative polling numbers, with up to 62% of respondents questioning Clinton’s honesty, came several weeks prior to the newest twist in her email scandal. If only we had a Department of Justice rather than a nest of political legal activism, these wrongdoings would result in criminal charges and not just falling poll numbers.

Hillary dismissed the whole story, saying, “[T]here have been a lot of inaccuracies” in the news. You don’t say. She then suggested, “Maybe the heat is getting to everybody.” Let’s hope she does feel the heat.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Friday, July 31, 2015


What is it with the far-left and violence?

Comment from Douglas Murray in Britain.  He might also have mentioned how keen the American Left is on the ghastly Cuban regime

Thanks to Guido Fawkes, I learn that the left-wing author Owen Jones has just appeared at the Sinn Fein summer school in Ireland.  According to Sinn Fein’s own newspaper, Owen used the opportunity to praise Sinn Fein’s ‘progressive’ politics, suggest that people take inspiration from the 1916 Easter Rising and announce what a ‘passionate believer’ he apparently is in a united Ireland.

There are a number of interesting things about this.  The first is that it exposes what a sham the far-left’s attitude towards political violence really is. Owen isn’t the first person of his ilk to have supported Sinn Fein.  For decades there has been a dirty line-up of far-left figures who have done the same.  For instance the man Owen wants to be the next Labour leader – Jeremy Corbyn – was chumming up to Sinn Fein even while their military wing was blowing up ordinary pub-goers, shooting farmers in the head and planting bombs in Britain’s shopping centres.

But just imagine if a British commentator from the political right had recently travelled to address any political party with Sinn Fein’s violent associations.  Using Golden Dawn as a comparison doesn’t really work because Sinn Fein have so much more blood on their hands than Golden Dawn.  Sinn Fein is a party which until recently had a military wing responsible for the torture, wounding and murder of thousands of innocent people.  True, members of the vile Golden Dawn have been involved in plenty of violence and brutality, but to nothing like the extent of members of Sinn Fein.

Yet imagine if they had and that a British conservative commentator had just addressed a Golden Dawn event, even if they had they not used the opportunity (as Owen did) to praise their hosts.  There would now be a tsunami of criticism from across the political spectrum, especially on the far-left.  This would doubtless include much talk of the need to ‘smash’, rather than talk to, fascists.  As I say, it isn’t a very complete thought experiment, because there is no political party of the far-right or anywhere else in Europe as bad as Sinn Fein.

Perhaps Owen is unaware of the party’s history.  Well very many of us are not (and before any of Owen’s stooges try to cast me as an apologist for all British actions in Ireland, they are welcome to read my book on Bloody Sunday).  What we all know is that for decades the leadership of Sinn Fein and the leadership of the IRA were one and the same.  They developed, it must be credited, an exceptionally successful bad-cop / worse-cop technique.

So, for instance, the IRA would plant a bomb in the centre of a busy town, killing a couple of passing children, and Sinn Fein would issue some blandishments about the need for British troops to leave the six counties and Ireland to be united.  Or the IRA would plant a bomb in a British pub and Sinn Fein would talk about something done by other people several decades earlier.

Best of all was the ability of senior figures in the IRA to ‘disappear’ people (that is abduct, torture and generally shoot in the back of the head) like the widowed mother of ten children Jean McConville.  While leaving bodies like hers to rot in unmarked graves (and leaving their families to a state of unimaginable fear and grief), some of those implicated in the murder could then get on with their political careers.

Or perhaps Owen doesn’t care that he’s hanging out with the most murderous political party in Europe.  Which then points to another fascinating aspect of the far-left: the transparent way in which they develop and deploy their alleged ‘priorities’.  For as the Irish News points out, Owen very recently attacked the Democratic Unionist Party. What for? Why for being ‘riddled with homophobic bigotry’ of course.

One could make the cheap point that the highest reaches of Sinn Fein have in recent decades been riddled with such bigotry and far worse (for instance the party was also riddled with paedophiles and those who covered up for them).

Or one could point out (as a prominent local gay rights campaigner has here) that Sinn Fein was never supportive of any gay equality reform until it suddenly became popular to be so.  Then they adopted this stance because the wind had changed and they presumably made the calculation that by pretending to be ‘progressive’ on social issues they could fool some young people who had no idea of the party’s history.

As I say, the priorities are fascinating.  Personally I am happy to forgive people who are not 100 per cent on-board with gay marriage.  But I find it very difficult indeed to forgive – let alone support – people who ripped apart thousands of British and Irish lives in a campaign of violence whose ends could have been achieved without a drop of blood being shed.

SOURCE

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How to Kill the Summer Job

By Jonah Goldberg

I had a lot of summer jobs. I was a foot messenger in New York for a couple of summers. I worked as a receptionist and mail room flunky. Before my junior year of high school, I briefly sold ice cream snacks — sort of yuppie bonbons — on the street for a company called Love Bites. The uniform was a tight red T-shirt (with a cupid over the heart), a straw hat, cane and snug brown shorts. When my manager asked me to work weekend nights in the (famously gay) West Village, I defected to a company that sold Italian ices. First, I didn’t want to work nights. But at 16, I also wasn’t ready to say, “Hey mister, would you like a Love Bite?” to the gang leaving the Stonewall Inn.

Truth be told, all I wanted out of most of these gigs was beer money. Today, however, psychologists, educators and economists all talk about the benefits of summer jobs in the context of acquiring “life skills.”

These early part-time or temporary jobs teach young people to manage money. (I learned to buy cheap canned domestic beer, for instance, not the trendy imports or microbrews.) They help develop good work habits: show up on time, follow instructions, be courteous to customers, etc.

Basically, working teaches young people how to work. There’s no substitute for it.

That’s one reason I find the race to raise the minimum wage across the country so problematic. I understand the good intentions underlying it. But the idea that the minimum wage — at least for young workers — should be a “living wage” is absurd, even immoral. Employers are taking a risk when they hire people with no work experience. Why further discourage that?

Subsidize something and you get more of it. Tax it and you get less. There are plenty of ways to subsidize low-skill hiring — an expanded earned-income tax credit, for instance. Instead, a higher minimum wage taxes the employers who hire low-skill workers. That’s nuts.

Meanwhile, the summer job isn’t extinct — yet. In 1999, 52 percent of teens worked summer jobs. These days it’s a third, and dropping. That’s not just because of a bad labor market. This summer, even as the economy picked up, youth employment continued to decline. Indeed, according to the Pew Research Center, teen employment has been going out of fashion since 1990. Why?

The answer for one slice of the labor market — college-bound teens from relatively affluent families — seems to be that they are focusing all of their energy on enhancing their transcripts with unpaid internships (which Charles Murray calls “affirmative action for the advantaged”), self-interested volunteer work and test-prep or other courses. Affluent parents encourage their kids to study Mandarin or sponge oil off sea birds to prove how “selfless” they are to admissions officers.

Kids who’ve already gotten into college have turned their backs on summer work too. Visit summer tourist spots such as North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach or Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and you’ll find that the positions once held by students from Eastern colleges are now filled by kids from Eastern Europe. It’s interesting that many of these decidedly liberal communities would rather import labor from Belarus than from Baltimore.

(It’s also telling that the very same unions that campaign for hikes in the minimum wage also want union members to be exempt from it. That way unions can pad their membership rolls while becoming a monopoly supplier of cheap labor to businesses. It’s a disgustingly cynical ploy.)

Affluent kids may be less well adjusted and self-confident because they lack real work experience. Poorer youth truly suffer when they can’t get a foothold in the workforce as early as possible.

But there’s another long-term problem. America is raising a whole generation of “leaders” who see the people they are supposed to represent as abstractions rather than as individuals they have served, worked with or worked for. Just as we want civilian leaders who know what it’s like to wear the uniform, we want policymakers who know what it’s like to work — and hire — in the trenches.

SOURCE

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Phony GOP Conservatism Has Worn Out Its Welcome

By David Limbaugh

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (AP File Photo)
The long-simmering disconnect between the Republican Party's conservative base and its leaders in government has degenerated into a full-blown schism.

While President Obama accelerates his increasingly radical agenda, the GOP, despite its congressional majority, can barely muster an objection, let alone block his momentum.

Other than to offer a toothless public rebuke of Obama's destructive schemes, what was the point of the 2014 GOP congressional landslide? It's no longer just a small percentage of conservatives questioning the GOP. Our people are furious — and rightly so.

I've recently shared my opinion that Donald Trump's explosive surge is because of his giving voice to the conservative base's outrage and his refusal to be chastened or muzzled.

Significantly, establishment Republicans are united with liberal Democrats in their contempt for Trump. The latter attribute his popularity to some innate anger of mean-spirited conservatives who are supposedly soaking up Trump's straight talk like bloodsucking vampires. The former refuse to lift a finger against that liberal slander, and some even pile on, saying that Trump supporters are nativists or xenophobes, as opposed to sane patriots determined to protect America's borders and sovereignty.

Let the elites look down their superior noses at us commoners. Be advised, though, that Trump is not the only one railing against the pervasive insanity, including the role that the GOP leadership is playing in it. Sen. Ted Cruz has set his sights on the "Washington cartel" — the quasi bipartisan ruling class that is presiding over the disgraceful dismantling of the United States as we know and love it. Candidate Carly Fiorina is also speaking eloquently about bringing "outside-the-box" changes to Washington to make a real difference, as opposed to merely slowing down the devastating Obama juggernaut.

It's easy for the ruling class and its enablers to dismiss conservative opposition as misplaced fury, but grass-roots anger is anything but random and cathartic. It is not an eruption of malcontents looking for an excuse to air some deep-seated unhappiness.

Generally speaking, conservatives are optimistic and bullish on America. But they have witnessed assault after brutal assault against the Constitution, our liberties and our values, and they are justifiably mad as hell and are not inclined to take it anymore.

Adding insult to injury, they continue to elect Republicans to office based on their promise they will try not only to stop Obama's momentum but also to reverse it and make real headway toward saving this nation.

Time after time, they deliver instead outright betrayal. They always offer the same excuses. "We're doing the best we can. We're powerless to do much, and if we try, the voters will be angry and we'll never win the presidency."

Well, for a long time, I've held my tongue; I've given the leadership the benefit of the doubt and resisted impugning the party leaders' motives, even when I strongly registered my objection to their perpetual caving. But I can no longer assume the best of people who are not simply failing to retard Obama's agenda but, in many cases, facilitating it.

With the Corker bill, Senate Republicans have effectively forfeited their constitutional power to reject the Iran nuclear deal — the most dangerous foreign treaty (yes, it's a treaty) in decades. Over the weekend, the ruling class rebuked and punished Cruz for admirably trying to put a wrench in the scheme to resurrect the Export-Import Bank. And don't get me started on the leadership's performance on Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

The establishment pretends its outrage against Cruz is based on his alleged breach of Senate rules in accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of lying. These self-righteous patricians pretended to be appalled at this unforgivable incivility.

Well, let me ask you: Are you more worried about what Obama is doing to this nation or alleged violations of Senate decorum? If McConnell really lied to Cruz about a matter that affects the well-being of this nation, are you appalled at Cruz or at those shaming him for trying to represent our interests?

Establishment Republicans are not only emulating liberal Democrats in making Obama's job easier but also acting like liberals in placing form above substance. Their faux ire at Cruz's alleged violation of their prissy rules instead of at Obama's agenda is like the liberal media's outrage at the editing of the Planned Parenthood video rather than at its harvesting of the organs of unborn babies. Instead of joining Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee and others in really opposing Obama, like Democrats, they accuse him of being an opportunist who is interested only in his presidential ambitions.

I am unimpressed by self-serving rules of seniority among the ruling class. What I care about is that our interests are properly represented in Washington, especially by those who deceived us with promises that they would govern as conservatives. Now that, my friends, is opportunism.

God bless Sen. Cruz and all others who are trying to govern precisely as they promised and to give conservatism — and thus America — a fighting chance. We haven't heard the end of this yet.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

****************************

Thursday, July 30, 2015



A syndrome of general biological fitness appears again

I have been pointing out for many years that there seems to be a syndrome of general biological fitness -- such that high IQ people are healthier, live longer and have better emotional balance. High IQ, in other words, is just one part of general bodily good functioning. The recent study below is another indicator of such an association and goes on to show that the link is genetic.  Some people are just born healthier and fitter. If so, all your bits work well -- including your brain, which is just another bodily organ.   A wise man from long ago knew that.  He said: "For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." (Mark 4: 25).  "All men are equal" exists neither in the Bible nor in life

The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic

By Rosalind Arden et al.

Abstract

Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.

Methods: We analysed data from three genetically informative samples containing information on intelligence and mortality: Sample 1, 377 pairs of male veterans from the NAS-NRC US World War II Twin Registry; Sample 2, 246 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry; and Sample 3, 784 pairs of twins from the Danish Twin Registry. The age at which intelligence was measured differed between the samples. We used three methods of genetic analysis to examine the relationship between intelligence and lifespan: we calculated the proportion of the more intelligent twins who outlived their co-twin; we regressed within-twin-pair lifespan differences on within-twin-pair intelligence differences; and we used the resulting regression coefficients to model the additive genetic covariance. We conducted a meta-analysis of the regression coefficients across the three samples.

Results: The combined (and all three individual samples) showed a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample observed r = .12 (95% confidence interval .06 to .18). The additive genetic covariance model supported a genetic relationship between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%.

Conclusions: The finding of common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence has important implications for public health, and for those interested in the genetics of intelligence, lifespan or inequalities in health outcomes including lifespan.

SOURCE

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British government hospitals are still letting the elderly die of thirst

Behold America's future if Obamacare is not repealed

Doctors and nurses are having to be reminded to give water to dying patients.  It is being spelled out to them in basic guidelines following concerns that patients are being denied fluids before their deaths.

Experts fear the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway – under which food and drink was withdrawn from the dying – has left a ‘hangover’ in the NHS a year after it was abolished.

Staff are routinely waiting up to three days before putting the terminally ill on drips or feeding tubes while they debate whether it is in their ‘best interests’.

Now guidance from NHS watchdog NICE – the first of its kind – expressly tells staff to ‘support’ dying patients to drink, or get them to suck sponges soaked in water if they are very frail.

It specifically points out that dehydration is ‘unlikely to hasten death’ and fluids will not ‘prolong’ the dying process, but in fact ease their suffering.

The guidance also tells medical professionals to carry out a thorough check of patients’ symptoms to make sure they really are dying and to seek advice from colleagues if there is any doubt.

Although the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway was phased out last summer, nurses, charities and academics say it is still used in some hospitals under a different name.

The practice – introduced in the 1990s – involved the withdrawal of fluids and food from patients deemed to be at the end of their lives with the intention of hastening death and easing their suffering.

But in many instances patients were placed on the pathway for days, starving and dehydrated, with relatives resorting to giving them wet sponges in secret.

Tory MP Andrew Percy, who sits on the Commons health select committee, said the fact that NICE had issued the guidance was ‘concerning’.

‘It’s been made very clear that the Liverpool Care Pathway is not acceptable and is not an appropriate pathway for people at the end of their life.’ he said.

‘We heard some terrible examples of people being denied fluids at the end of life and it’s concerning that NICE have felt the need to issue this guidance.’

SOURCE

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And here's ANOTHER charming British precedent Americans will be looking forward to

"Minor" procedures such as cataract operations are discouraged.  Pity if you can't see, though

GPs are being offered cash incentives worth up to £200,000 if they do not send patients to hospital for routine operations.

They have been told to slash the numbers referred for procedures of ‘low clinical value’ including hip and knee surgery and cataract treatment.

Doctors are also urged to avoid sending patients in for outpatients appointments before or after operations as these are deemed to be a waste of time.

The controversial scheme has been introduced by managers in the North West to save money on the basis that this will improve care and free-up more appointment time.

But it has concerned a number of GPs, who say it may ‘colour the judgement’ of some of their colleagues.

They are worried that doctors will be inclined not to refer patients for important appointments or procedures just because they will earn more money.

A spokesman for the British Medical Association, the professional body which represents doctors said: ‘Clinical Commissioning Groups should not be setting up incentive schemes that force doctors to make clinical decisions based on finances rather than a patient’s health needs.  ‘GPs will be appalled by this measure, not least as it will undermine the public’s confidence in the NHS.

The scheme has been rolled out in Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, a local NHS trust covering 50 surgeries and 270,000 patients.

It was inspired by very similar initiatives already in place in CCGs in Liverpool and Manchester, where doctors are also offered money to reduce ‘unnecessary’ referrals.

But one unnamed GP who practices in Bolton said the policy was ‘unhealthy’ and breached the doctors’ code of conduct, which states that patient care must come first.  ‘Giving doctors financial incentives not to refer is not in the interests of patients or services,’ he said.

SOURCE

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Levin: `Unbridled Immigration, Legal and Illegal, Is Taking the Country Down'

"Immigration, legal and illegal, is taking the country down," nationally syndicated radio show host Mark Levin stated in his broadcast on Thursday.

"Unbridled immigration, wave after wave after wave, which is what has taken place for the last 50 years, is killing this country," Levin said. "Fundamentally altering this country, creating more poor American citizens in this country - and to what end?"

Here is the transcript of what Levin said:

    "Now I can go on and on; the case is overwhelming that unbridled immigration, wave after wave after wave, which is what has taken place for the last 50 years, is killing this country.

    "Fundamentally altering this country, creating more poor American citizens in this country - and to what end?

    "That information, all that information is in Plunder and Deceit on my chapter on immigration, but there's a lot more because immigration is even more than that.

    "It's about foreigners coming into the country, not assimilating, and it's about a federal government basically controlled by the Left, almost in a monopolistic way, which does not want assimilation, does not want Americanization because, as [President] Obama has said repeatedly, he and the Left despise America.

    "So we have people escaping failed cultures, escaping failed economic systems, escaping failed governments, coming into this country and bringing all three of those with them -and our country encouraging it.

    "So this does affect jobs. This does affect the economy. It sure as hell affects your children and grandchildren. It affects our school systems, it affects law enforcement - yes. It affects our health care system, it affects our entire country.

    "Unbridled - wave after wave - immigration, legal and illegal, is taking the country down."

SOURCE

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Trump means business

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably noticed that Donald Trump is running for president as a Republican on an aggressive platform against illegal immigration.

After his announcement - in which he said Mexico was sending criminals, rapists, and drug dealers to the U.S. - being declared a "disaster" by mainstream media outlets, something unexpected happened.

Just a month later, Trump has rocketed to a lead in national GOP polls. The most recent USA Today, Fox News, Washington Post/ABC, and PPP polls all have him garnering about one-fifth of Republican voters, more than any other candidate.  Guess it wasn't so disastrous after all.

So how has Trump done it? Besides already having built-in name recognition, Trump has tapped into a growing frustration of the Republican Party base with leadership in Washington, D.C., which is perceived to be acquiescent to President Barack Obama's agenda and against their economic interests.

Unbridled illegal immigration and trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership - which Trump has come out squarely against - are seen as a threat to Americans still struggling to find work after the Great Recession.

It's not hard to understand. It's about the economy. And it's about jobs.

Consider Trump's appeal in his announcement to disaffected voters and general lashing out at politicians in Washington, D.C.: "How stupid are our leaders? How stupid are these politicians to allow this to happen? How stupid are they?"

It is this frankness and toughness that has captured voters' attention. The message is simple.

Trump is running as an outsider, and his stance against illegal immigration and against the trade deal - and the lack of action by the federal government to do anything to create jobs for Americans - provides a ready-made outlet for Republican voters who feel underrepresented.

In an interview with Breitbart News' Robert Wilde, pollster Pat Caddell reported that "the alienation among Republican voters is so high" and that conservatively "a quarter to one-third of the Republican party are hanging by a thread from bolting."

In a recent poll Caddell conducted, 84 percent of GOP voters and leaners said they were less likely to support a member of Congress who voted to use taxpayer money to implement Obama's amnesty.

Meaning, the disaffection is real. And Trump has tapped into exactly the right issue to distinguish himself from the rest of the Republican field.

And now, with Trump leading the GOP field, and with frustration over the illegal immigration issue reaching a boil, he must be contended with.

Trump has tapped into something real. Something visceral.  Which to an entrenched GOP establishment that cannot control him, poses a very real danger to their power.

Initially, the response to Trump was to dismiss, mock, and ignore his populist message on trade and immigration. But that won't work anymore. It even seemed to help him. Love him or hate him, Trump means business.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Your poverty is in your brain

We sort of knew that already.  The correlation between low IQ and poverty is well-attested. The latest journal article below however takes the story a bit further in that it identifies which brain regions are responsible.  Certain areas of poor people's brains are actually shrunken! The authors seem to have frightened themselves by their boldness, however, as they have tacked a totally illogical conclusion on to their findings.

If poverty is a result of the shrunken brain you were born with, does it not follow that there is not much you can do about it?  The authors below avoid that conclusion.  Instead they say that poor households "should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments".   An hereditary problem can be fixed by changing the environment?  That's a pretty good Non Sequitur as far as I can see.

It's not totally daft in that genetics accounts for only about two thirds of IQ.  There are some other influences that have an effect.  But all the research shows that family environment is NOT part of those other influences on IQ.   It's jarring but that is what all the twin studies show. So the hairy lady and her colleagues below are just ignoring the evidence.  But they need to in order to sound nicely Leftist about it all.

Footnote:  The authors of course avoid the term "IQ" like the plague but the standardized tests  of  academic achievement they used are little more than IQ tests and correlate highly with acknowledged measures of IQ.  So their findings show that IQ, income and brain development all cluster together.


Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement

By Nicole L. Hair et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance:  Children living in poverty generally perform poorly in school, with markedly lower standardized test scores and lower educational attainment. The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits. These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.

Objective:  To determine whether atypical patterns of structural brain development mediate the relationship between household poverty and impaired academic performance.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Longitudinal cohort study analyzing 823 magnetic resonance imaging scans of 389 typically developing children and adolescents aged 4 to 22 years from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development with complete sociodemographic and neuroimaging data. Data collection began in November 2001 and ended in August 2007. Participants were screened for a variety of factors suspected to adversely affect brain development, recruited at 6 data collection sites across the United States, assessed at baseline, and followed up at 24-month intervals for a total of 3 periods. Each study center used community-based sampling to reflect regional and overall US demographics of income, race, and ethnicity based on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of area income. One-quarter of sample households reported the total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level. Repeated observations were available for 301 participants.

Exposure  Household poverty measured by family income and adjusted for family size as a percentage of the federal poverty level.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Children's scores on cognitive and academic achievement assessments and brain tissue, including gray matter of the total brain, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus.

Results:  Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm (P less than .05). A larger gap of 8 to 10 percentage points was observed for children below the federal poverty level (P less than .05). These developmental differences had consequences for children's academic achievement. On average, children from low-income households scored 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests (P less than .05). As much as 20% of the gap in test scores could be explained by maturational lags in the frontal and temporal lobes.

Conclusions and Relevance:  The influence of poverty on children's learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.

JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 20, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1475


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The Different Social Visions of Liberals and Conservatives

Excerpt from the Heritage Foundation's 2015 Index of Culture and Opportunity

The nature of America's political and policy debates can sometimes foster a profound misun-derstanding of the nature of American society-and indeed of all human societies. To make challenges easier to understand and address, people divide pol-itics into discrete "issues" and try to take them up individually. There are education debates, welfare debates, and entitlement debates. There are infra-structure bills and immigration bills and defense bills. There is a health care system and a financial system and a transportation system.

Dividing up public affairs in this way presents each "issue" as a distinct set of problems in search of a distinct set of solutions, and political debates pro-ceed as arguments about the nature of the problems and the desirability of various proposed solutions in each case.

This is a sensible way to think about a lot of the challenges America faces, but it is inadequate when it comes to the most important and most difficult challenges-those that have to do with the underly-ing health and strength of the nation as a whole and therefore with the prerequisites for human flourish-ing, for prosperity, for opportunity, and for liberty in this country.

Americans have clearly had the sense in recent years that the country is in some trouble on this front-that too many of our fellow citizens are denied the opportunity to lead flourishing lives, that prosperity and economic mobility are too often out of reach, and that the liberty that gives meaning and substance to the American Dream is in danger.

Thinking about these broadest and deepest of our public problems brings out most powerfully some of the key differences between conservatives and lib-erals in America. The left and the right think about society in different ways.

For conservatives, a society is ultimately and above all an intergenerational compact-a kind of sacred trust across time-for the protection of fun-damental natural rights and the advancement of essential human goods. We the living members of American society are graced with a magnificent inheritance and are entrusted to preserve and refine its strengths, to work to mitigate its weaknesses, and to pass it along in even better condition to those who will come after.

Conservatives understand society as an organic outgrowth-a kind of sum and sub-stance-of a set of social arrangements that begin in loving family attachments, spread outward into per-sonal commitments and relationships in civil soci-ety and local communities, reach further outward toward broader state and regional affinities, and conclude in a national identity that among its fore-most attributes is dedicated to the principle of the equality of the entire human race.

Society is thus like a set of concentric rings, begin-ning with the most concrete and personal of human connections and concluding with the most abstract and philosophical of human commitments. Each ring, starting from the innermost sanctum of the family and the individuals who compose it, anchors and enables the next and is in turn protected by it and given the room to thrive. The outermost ring of society is guarded and sustained by the national gov-ernment, which is charged with protecting the space in which the entire society can thrive-the space between the individual and the nation as a whole, the space occupied by society. This means that it must neither invade that space nor allow it to collapse.

How liberals understand the nature of society

Liberals proceed from a rather different general understanding of the nature of society. The left's social vision tends to consist of individuals and the state so that, essentially, all common action is ulti-mately government action. On this view, the govern-ment's purpose is to liberate individuals from mate-rial want and moral sway. As former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.. put it at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, "There are things that a civilized society needs that we can only do if we do them together, and [when] we do them together that's called government."

The mediating institutions that fill the space between the individual and the government are often viewed by the left with suspicion. They are seen as instruments of division, prejudice, and selfishness or as power centers lacking in democratic legitimacy.

Liberals have frequently sought to empower the government to undercut the influence of these insti-tutions and put in their place public programs and policies motivated by a single, cohesive understand-ing of the public interest. Their hope is to level the complex social topography of the space between the individual and the government, breaking up tightly knit clusters of citizens into individuals but then uniting all of those individuals under the national banner-allowing them to be free of family or com-munity norms while building solidarity through the common experience of living as equal citizens of a great nation.

This basic difference of social visions helps to explain why conservatives and liberals sometimes understand our society's deepest problems so differ-ently. To many liberals, who view society as a com-pact among individuals for their mutual material betterment, the persistence of entrenched pover-ty, family breakdown, social dysfunction, and poor mobility in many communities in America looks like a function of a failure to allocate resources proper-ly.

Liberals often blame these phenomena on selfish interests that they believe actively stand in the way of social progress. Their solution is to double down on the basic liberal approach to social policy: to pro-mote public programs that address economic imbal-ances through redistribution.

To conservatives, who view society as an intergen-erational compact for the preservation of the prereq-uisites for human flourishing to be advanced through the complex, layered architecture of our mediating institutions, the persistence of such daunting social problems suggests a breakdown of these core insti-tutions, especially those that are deepest and closest to the core: the family and civil society.

The importance of intergenerational obligations

Because our most important social institutions are those that are most defined by intergeneration-al obligations, our most significant social problems are often those that arise at the juncture of the gen-erations: failure of family formation, failure to meet parental obligations, failure to protect the very youngest and the very oldest-the most innocent and vulnerable among our fellow citizens.

Because freedom is ultimately made possible by and exists for the sake of our most direct and person-al commitments, the greatest challenges to liberty are challenges to the freedom of action of our insti-tutions of civil society-challenges that are often advanced under the banner of liberating individuals but that actually take the form of restricting dissent and constraining expression and action (as we have seen of late, for instance, in some prominent public battles over religious liberty).

Because liberals tend to ignore the significance of much that happens at the juncture of the genera-tions and much that is done by our mediating insti-tutions, they often find themselves perplexed by the deepest and most enduring social problems we con-front-unable to explain the problems' persistence except by inventing scapegoats to blame and incapa-ble of addressing them except by frantically moving money around in the hope of finding just the right balance of payments to heal our society.

Conservatives, on the other hand, know that explaining the persistence of entrenched, intergen-erational poverty-despite half a century of mas-sive public programs to address it-requires tak-ing into account the interconnectedness of the generations and the institutions that make up com-munities. Conservatives blame neither any malice of the wealthy and powerful nor any failure of will among the poor, but instead the intrinsic inclination of all human beings to fall into self-serving apathy or self-defeating vice in the absence of sound social institutions and norms.

Conservatives understand that material poverty and spiritual disorder exac-erbate one another in an ever-intensifying spiral of misery that can be broken only by material support and social order-a blend of aid and love that must be delivered in person. A true social safety net has to involve more than a government check.

That is why liberals seeking to describe the most significant challenges our country now confronts tend to resort to abstract portraits of inequality while conservatives point to the key indicators of social health and human flourishing-that is, to the state of American families and of civil society.

That is what this index does and why it does it. The institutions it tracks are those that fill the space between the individual and the state: fami-lies, schools, local religious and civic institutions, and a robust free economy. The trends it follows chart the state of the core prerequisites for a flour-ishing society. The questions it asks are those that conservatives take to be essential to understanding the state of American life.

And the answers it finds are, in all too many cases, quite distressing. Family breakdown, an enervation of civil society, a dearth of educational and econom-ic opportunities, and a lack of social mobility stand in the way of far too many Americans. Not all of the trends are depressing; even some crucial ones like teen pregnancy and abortion rates are moving in the right direction. But the general picture for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Americans is one of social and economic disadvantage building upon one another in a cycle of ruin that the nation must not abide.

This diagnosis does not come complete with neat prescriptions. Addressing America's current social and economic dysfunction will be no easy feat. But in order to try, society needs a clear picture of the challenges it confronts. That means first asking the right questions, an endeavor often thwarted by the politics of "issues" and the radical individualism that is so endemic today.

SOURCE

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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